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The Women (1939)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | 1 September 1939 (USA)
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A study of the lives and romantic entanglements of various interconnected women.

Director:

George Cukor

Writers:

Clare Boothe Luce (from the play by) (as Clare Boothe), Anita Loos (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Norma Shearer ... Mrs. Stephen Haines - Mary
Joan Crawford ... Crystal Allen
Rosalind Russell ... Mrs. Howard Fowler - Sylvia
Mary Boland ... The Countess De Lave - Flora
Paulette Goddard ... Miriam Aarons
Joan Fontaine ... Mrs. John Day - Peggy
Lucile Watson ... Mrs. Morehead
Phyllis Povah ... Mrs. Phelps Potter - Edith
Virginia Weidler ... Little Mary
Marjorie Main ... Lucy
Virginia Grey ... Pat
Ruth Hussey ... Miss Watts
Muriel Hutchison ... Jane
Hedda Hopper ... Dolly DuPuyster
Florence Nash ... Nancy Blake
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Storyline

Wealthy Mary Haines is unaware her husband is having an affair with shopgirl Crystal Allen. Sylvia Fowler and Edith Potter discover this from a manicurist and arrange for Mary to hear the gossip. On the train taking her to a Reno divorce Mary meets the Countess and Miriam (in an affair with Fowler's husband). While they are at Lucy's dude ranch, Fowler arrives for her own divorce and the Countess meets fifth husband-to-be Buck. Back in New York, Mary's ex is now unhappily married to Crystal who is already in an affair with Buck. When Sylvia lets this story slip at an exclusive nightclub, Crystal brags of her plans for a still wealthier marriage, only to find the Countess is the source of all Buck's money. Crystal must return to the perfume counter and Mary runs back to her husband. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's all about men! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

1 September 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mujeres See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,688,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,270,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Black and White | Color (Technicolor) (one sequence)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Even though the overall atmosphere was one of great professionalism, there were still some reports of legitimate tension on the set between Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford. One frequently repeated story told of one day when the two actresses were running lines to prepare for their big dressing room confrontation scene. As writer Gavin Lambert tells it in his 1990 book "Norma Shearer", "[George Cukor] filmed the master shot, then lined up a close-up of Norma. While he rehearsed her, Joan, who still brought her knitting to the set, clacked away at an afghan with her large, heavy needles. Then Cukor asked her to stand behind the camera during the take and speak her lines off-screen to Norma. She did so, trailing her afghan, and as Cukor held the shot for Norma's silent reaction, the needles clacked away again. Norma lost her concentration, looked up sharply, and asked Joan to stop needling during the retake. Joan pretended not to hear, repeated the treatment, and this time Norma broke off in mid-reaction. Her voice as steely as the needles, she asked Cukor to send Miss Crawford home and read the lines himself." Cukor, angry, asked Crawford to apologize. Crawford refused and walked off the set, though she did later send a telegram of apology to Shearer once she had cooled off. See more »

Goofs

When Little Mary says, "Sheba, get off of Daddy's coat," to her dog, her lips close before the line is finished. See more »

Quotes

Sylvia Fowler: Oh, you remember the awful things they said about what's-her-name before she jumped out the window? There. You see? I can't even remember her name so who cares?
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening credits, before the photo images of the actresses are shown, their characters are revealed by images of various animals. See more »

Alternate Versions

At the start of the Technicolor Adrian fashion show, the video and TV versions have traditionally shown a Technicolor stage in the middle of the screen surrounded by pure white (this always struck me as odd but I never thought too much about it). The original 1939 version of the scene shows the Technicolor stage surrounded by the rest of the room IN BLACK AND WHITE, using a stenciling process developed for (but ultimately unused in) The Wizard of Oz. Presumably, because the reel starts right BEFORE the transition, it was either too much trouble and expense to process the small bit of stray black and white footage for television (it would have to have been printed separately onto each release print in 1939)or, more likely, the footage has been lost. The new video and cable versions show The Women in a reconstruction of the original version, with the Technicolor stage printed over a black and white still from later in the film. The image, as now presented, is much less jarring than the original video release. The fashion show was also shot in black and white, with the models interacting with the stars as they move throughout the boutique. After principal photography ended, MGM decided to re-shoot the fashion show in Technicolor (this color footage was not shot by George Cukor)and the models no longer interact with Norma Shearer, 'Rosalind Russell', etc. The original black and white footage, saved in the MGM vault, can now be seen as a special feature on the Warner DVD. Older television prints often showed the fashion show in black and white, but it was not this alternate footage, just the color sequence printed without its tints. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Misadventures of Margaret (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Forevermore
(1939) (uncredited)
Music by Edward Ward
Lyrics by Chet Forrest and Bob Wright
Played at the end and sung by an offscreen chorus
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Cats
19 October 2003 | by jotix100See all my reviews

"The Women" owes its appeal to the great George Cukor. Without him, it would certainly have been a different movie. Because of his direction this is a Hollywood classic at its best.

They certainly don't make pictures like this anymore. Imagine what it would have cost to have a first rate cast to fill the shoes of all these women in today's Hollywood? It would probably be so prohibitive that no one in the present climate would touch it with a ten foot pole.

"The Women", as written by Clare Booth Luce for the stage, was a delicious comedy about New York society, as it was in the late 30s. Of course, by today's standards, this is a very chaste take on that subject. Had it been done today, it would have been done entirely different and the excellent text by Ms. Luce would have probably been thrown away to satisfy the taste of contemporary audiences.

Norma Shearer was excellent as Mary Haines, the suffering wife, who has no clue of how her husband has fallen to the charms of Crystal Allen, beautifully played by Joan Crawford. Rosalind Russell, Mary Boland, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine and the rest of the cast seem to be having a lot of fun while playing these women.

One thing does come clear, those women had a style and a sophistication well beyond the times they lived. It's very clear that Claire Booth Luce was well ahead of it all, as she had an understanding for what was going on around her. What a thrill it must have been to have been around New York in that glamorous era!

Women: Love them, as we cannot live without them!


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